Vice-captain Jos Buttler admitted England might have picked the wrong side for the first Test against West Indies after Jason Holder’s masterful double century provided an unwanted “reality check”.
After being swept aside for 77 as 18 wickets tumbled on day two in Barbados, the tourists watched Holder and fellow centurion Shane Dowrich pile on 295 in an unbroken five-hour stand.
It was a morale-sapping, back-breaking experience for the touring attack, who flogged themselves without success as Holder made a stylish 202 not out and Dowrich added an unbeaten 116.
It was scarcely believable that the same two sides on the same Kensington Oval pitch could turn the chaos of day two into a day of such serene batsmanship just 24 hours later – Keaton Jennings and Rory Burns putting on 56 for the opening stand to spare England any further blushes.
The Windies will still be firm favourites to force home the win, though, with six full sessions to prompt and probe for lapses in concentration and England 572 adrift.
Buttler appeared to concede England’s decision to leave Stuart Broad out had hampered their prospects in the field, with the decision to include a second spinner ahead of the squad’s tallest pace bowler looking worse by the minute.
Asked if it had been an error, he said: “Potentially, yeah. Hindsight is obviously great when you’re trying to read pitches and come up with a side.
“It’s a brave, tough call for the guys to make but selection is not why we were 77 all out, that’s the really biggest factor in the game. With the bat we were well below our standards.
“With our aim of being the number-one side in the world that is nowhere near good enough. It’s probably a good reality check for us as a side, for where we’re at in international cricket.”
Another potential concern is the effect such an outing could have on key all-rounder Ben Stokes. A key cog in England’s plan for a famous World Cup and Ashes double this winter, he put himself through just shy of 50 overs across two innings.
Managing his workload is crucial to his ongoing effectiveness, but like Andrew Flintoff before him, his eagerness to put his body on the line could eventually cause problems.
“It’s tough to get the ball out of his hand,” conceded Buttler.
“He’s got such incredible skill and a massive heart and he wants to be in the action all of the time. He’s an all-action cricketer. We have to manage his workload but it’s tough to do that when he just wants to keep going.
“Of course the management and captain want to look after the players especially someone like that but try telling him not to be involved or to take a rest.”
Holder was predictably buoyant after experiencing a day to remember at his home ground.
With 23 fours and eight sixes to his name, he became just the third number eight in Test history to score 200 and admits the landmark crept up on him as he focused on getting Dowrich to three figures.
“To score a double hundred in front of your home crowd is a very pleasing feeling. I was ecstatic. It was a dream come true,” he said.
“The double was never really in sight. We wanted to get Shane to his hundred and bat for half an hour or so after tea.”
After a well-deserved night’s rest, he will form part of the four-man pace battery charged with rolling over England for a second time and is relishing the task.
“We’re very confident. England are still a long way off,” he said. “There are still a lot of things in our favour. Maybe we can wrap it up by tea.”